Summer Chapter Shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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As you all know, I am back in Italy. Mainly for 2 reasons:

1. Check on our house, La Fortezza.
2. Shoot the summer and autumn chapters of my next cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, Spring 2022.

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This project, for me, is a passion project. The book will be an epic and a beautiful depiction of the region we live in, in northern Tuscany. The book will be filled with local recipes and delicacies, gorgeous travel shots, typical local flavor, and purveyor portraits.

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These photographs will all be captured by the incredibly talented British Photographer David Loftus. I have been an admirer of David’s work for many years, as he has shot for some of the most famous chefs in the world; Jamie Oliver just to name one. His work is insanely beautiful. His discerning eye and recognizable style sets him apart as one of the world’s most respected food photographers. I was thrilled when he agreed to photograph my book.

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My sweet friend and producer, stylist Barbara Pederzini, agreed to help me with the prop styling. She brought all sorts of amazing serving pieces and plates to play with. I used a local chef to help prepare the dishes. It really was a magical team.

Without giving too much away, I believe that this book will take you on a journey and leave you with the lasting memory of a trip to our little piece of heaven. We will be shooting the autumn chapter starting October 5th, so be sure to follow the journey on my insta-stories. I can only tell you this is one of the best projects I have ever worked on. The love I have for this place, La Fortezza will shine through on every page and you will taste the love in every bite.

Until October, stay well x

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From the Archives:: Tortellini with Squash and Pesto

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Since I’ve been blogging and sharing recipes for so many years, there are tons of wonderful recipes in the depth of my archives. Every now and then, I do a quick search and discover a recipe that I’d forgotten about. This recipe for tortellini with squash and pesto is one of them.

I first discovered this recipe years ago when I was living in New York, so you know it’s a good one. The beauty of a dish like this is that it’s the perfect marriage of summer and fall. You might be left with an abundance of basil, squash, or even zucchini from your garden. If so, this is the recipe for you.

It’s quick yet decadent and delicious. Let me know if you give it a try!

Tortellini with Squash and Pesto 

You will need:
– 3 yellow squash cut into cubes
– 3 cloves garlic minced
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 16 oz. box tortellini pasta, either dried or fresh work great
– 1 cup toasted pine nuts
– 1 cup pesto, this can be also be prepared; I like the Cibo brand
– 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
– salt and pepper

In a large skillet, add minced garlic, oil, and cubed squash and saute until the squash is a golden brown. Meanwhile, in a large pot filled with water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the pasta water, then drain. In a large serving bowl add the cooked squash, the pesto and toasted nuts, add about 4 tablespoons of the pasta water, then add the pasta, and cheese and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and serve with extra grated cheese.

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Bread

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While fall is still a few days away, pumpkin season is upon us. There’s nothing like starting a crisp fall day with an espresso and a slice of pumpkin bread. This pumpkin bread is delicious for all the reasons you can imagine. It’s sweet. It’s seasonal. It’s festive. And it’s gluten-free.

Feel free to use the gluten-free flour of choice. You’ll get the same results no matter your choice.

Try different variations to really up the ante. Think a sprinkle of chocolate chips throughout the batter or try some pumpkin seeds on top. Either way, make it your own.

Pumpkin Bread

You will need:

– 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 cups gluten-free flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 t salt
– 1 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp allspice

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan

Mix flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice together. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time and beat. Alternately add dry ingredients and pumpkin puree to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry).

Pour mixture into greased 9″x 5″ loaf pan. Bake 50-60 min, or until cake tester comes out clean (I look for a few mini moist crumbs).

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then on a baking rack.

Enjoy!

xx Annette

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Easy Nibbles:: Marinated Olives

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With social distancing in full effect still, I’m finding that it’s just as fulfilling to put together fun snacks for one or two as it is for a full dinner party. These marinated olives fit that bill. They’re easy to put together, but really kick the humble olive up a notch.

This recipe also makes the perfect addition to a charcuterie platter. Trust me, though, once you have one, you’ll dig in for more!

Marinated Olives

You will need:
– 4 cups mixed olives
– 3 whole cloves of garlic, smashed
– ¼ cup of olive oil
– 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
– 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
– 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

To prepare:

In a saute pan, warm the olives, garlic, peppers, and oil. Toss in the herbs with the olive mixture. Serve warm.

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Comfort Food:: Meatless Lasagna

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I am sure you are, like me, relying heavily on meals that make you feel good from the inside out. Food is comforting, especially in these uncertain times. One of those meals for me is my meatless lasagna. It’s the quintessential comfort food.

This recipe makes a large portion of lasagna, so plan to serve it again for lunches and dinners, or divide it into two baking dishes and leave one for a neighbor on their porch. We could all use a little surprise these days. Enjoy!

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Meatless Lasagna
Serves 12-14

You will need:
– 1 package lasagna noodles (you will need 12 noodles)
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
– 2 cups mushrooms cut into thin slices
– 6 cups Spinach
– 1 16.oz ricotta ( low fat is fine)
– 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup for the topping)
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (reserve ½ cup for the topping)
– 1 16 oz jar prepared marinara sauce (or your own sauce recipe)

To prepare noodles:

Preheat Oven 400 degrees F

Prepare noodles according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: once the noodles are cooked, I like to rinse them in cool water and then leave them in the water until I am ready to layer the pan, this makes them not stick together.

To prepare filling:

Combine the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, and the 1 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano and egg in a bowl and combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a saute pan, add oil, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until browned, then toss in the spinach and saute the spinach and mushrooms until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated. You want the mixture as dry as possible.

To layer:

Separate the noodles in the water some of them may have stuck together, then drain in a colander. I like to line up my fillings and the noodles.

In a lasagna pan (9”x13)” lay in the layer of noodles, 3 to 4 is perfect. Then add the sauce about (1/2 cup), the spinach mushroom filling, and then dollops of the ricotta filling (about 3 tablespoon dollops), finishing off the layer with a sprinkle of shredded Mozzarella ( about 1/2 cup). Repeat this process 3 times, each time starting with the noodle layer. The top layer should be the noodles, sauce and the 1 cup of Mozzarella and ½ cup of Parmesan make sure to cover the entire top layer.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let it set up for 15-20 minutes before serving.

xx Annette

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